Farm equipment manufacturer John Deere announced Monday it plans to expand the availability of tools for diagnosing problems with equipment in 2023, while also teasing additional announcements on repair options in the future.
The company — which has recently been the subject of six lawsuits and an FTC complaint accusing it of monopolizing the repair market for Deere-branded machines with onboard central computers — said it plans to release “an enhanced customer solution that includes a mobile device interface, and the ability to download secure software updates directly to embedded controllers on select John Deere equipment with 4G connections.”
It will also allow online purchases of Customer Service ADVISOR, a database of operator, diagnostic and technical manuals that was previously only available for purchase from dealerships. 
"We recognize our customers' desire for more autonomy in managing their equipment," said Luke Gakstater, John Deere's senior vice president for aftermarket and customer support.
From the other side: “We aren’t campaigning for a kinder, gentler monopoly on repair," Kevin O’Reilly, the right to repair campaign director for U.S. PIRG said in a release that also pointed out that the solution specified in the announcement only applies to “select” equipment and only through wireless 4G connections.  
SEC proposal requires business disclosure of climate risks
Publicly traded companies would have to disclose the amount of greenhouse gases they emit, and what they’re doing to reduce them, under a proposal released Monday by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Ag and food companies, and others that issue stock, would be required to analyze “the material impacts of physical risks” on their strategy and management of climate-related risks, according to the proposal.
“For example, an agricultural producer or distributor might disclose the likely impacts of drought on its own product mix or that of its suppliers, including increased expenses for additional water,” the proposal said.
Scott summons meatpacking CEOs for House Ag hearing
The House Agriculture Committee plans to convene the leaders of the four leading meatpacking firms for an April hearing.
House Ag Committee Chair David Scott, D-Ga., announced Monday the plans for an April 27 hearing in a statement. He then clarified at the Agri-Pulse Ag and Food Policy Summit that the hearing would include the CEOs of the so-called “big four” meatpackers, if they accept the committee’s invitation.
“The question continues to be asked whether there is anti-competitive behavior taking place,” Scott said in a virtual appearance.
Rep. Glenn Thompson, the committee’s ranking member, expressed some frustration over the hearing and the “direction” of the committee.
“If there has been manipulation or wrongdoing by packers, then the law needs to be enforced under the existing authorities at both USDA and DOJ,” Thompson, R-Pa., said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this hearing — scheduled with zero input from Republicans — has the appearance of a political charade designed to further this Administration’s narrative of blaming industry executives, instead of the Democratic party’s own reckless spending, for skyrocketing inflation.” 
By the way: Julie Anna Potts, president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute, pointed to hearings on the subject that have already taken place – two in House Ag and additional oversight by the House Judiciary and Senate Judiciary and Agriculture committees – and said the group would offer familiar thoughts at the upcoming hearing. 
“The Meat Institute and its members have already made themselves available to Chairman Scott and all Members of Congress on several occasions to help improve the understanding of the beef markets,” she said. “This hearing will be no different. The questions have been asked and answered.”
Ag panel leaders still pursuing conservation funds
Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow is holding out hope that Congress will pass the conservation program funding that was included in the Build Back Better bill that died in the Senate. The funding is seen as the most realistic way to increase farm bill funding. 
“I am very hopeful we can add resources,” Stabenow, D-Mich., said Monday during the annual Agri-Pulse Ag & Food Policy Summit. “Short of that, we will be dealing with a flat-funded farm bill and so that will be our challenge at this point.”
Scott, the House Ag Chairman, insisted he was continuing to work on securing more money for conservation programs. “I assure you we are moving on conservation ... we'll find a way,” he said.
Hungary faces fertilizer supply predicament
Hungary is a stark example of how the Russian invasion of Ukraine is impacting the European ag sector’s access to fertilizer. Hungary has some domestic production but imports much of what its farmers need from Russia and that supply has been cut off, a Hungarian government official tells Agri-Pulse.
As for the natural gas that Hungary’s domestic fertilizer industry needs to import to make nitrogen fertilizer, it’s just become too expensive, and one Hungarian producer recently shut down production, the official said. Russia’s corn farmers will mostly have enough fertilizer to plant corn this spring, but that’s not likely to be the case for the next winter wheat crop.
US ag needs Canadian railroad back in service
There have been no new statements from the Canadian Pacific Railway or the Teamsters Rail Conference Canada since the railroad shut down just after midnight Saturday night, but farmers and fertilizer suppliers are anxious for a labor agreement that gets trains running again.
“In 2021, Canadian Pacific transported 428,568 carloads of grain and 151,789 carloads of potash — much of which originates from or is delivered to the 175 U.S. grain elevators served by the railroad,” says Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition.
It would never be a good time to have such a transportation network shut down, Steenhoek said, but stressed it’s especially bad now as the war in Ukraine escalates, tightening global supplies of grain and fertilizer.
He said it. “What you’re asking is, ‘Is there a solution to Chuck Grassley?” - Former Senate Ag Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., when asked at the Agri-Pulse Ag and Food Policy Summit about the prospects of passing a bill that would impose cash trade mandates on cattle markets. Sen.Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is a co-sponsor of the legislation and a longtime champion of mandating that packers buy more cattle on the spot market. 
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